by Christopher Atkinson, DCW staff
Director Rick Valenzuela of the Santa Clara Vanguard is excited about the upcoming season and the prospects for his group. It’s the kind of excitement that is contagious — that comes through in the conversation if you speak to him for even a few minutes. Building on the innovative groundswell of the past several seasons in terms of show design, coupled with the immensely talented group Valenzuela has on hand for 2002, he has every reason to be excited.
This year’s Memorial Day camp saw beautiful weather in Santa Clara and at the corps practice site in Grass Valley. The corps started with a music rehearsal Friday night as members trickled in from the airport, then moved to drill and music on Saturday. Sunday night saw the corps perform for about 200 people at an unannounced dress rehearsal, with local residents, alumni, volunteers and others in attendance. Monday the corps played a concert with the Blue Devils to formally rollout the production’s musical selections.
Most of the Vanguard drum lines and color guard are now in the local area in Santa Clara for rehearsals, but a substantial portion of the horn line is still involved with school activities. Though the official horn line move-in date is June 7, some local students will not finish classes until June 15, and a few members will not be finished with their academic responsibilities until the end of June. Valenzuela takes such time restraints in stride: “We start our (9 AM-to-9 PM practice schedule) without a full corps, because a lot of kids are still in school. I keep stressing to them that school is really important; some of the members feel really bad about missing rehearsals, but I make clear to them that their priority is school and that we’ll work around that.
“That’s the way it is every single year — we know that and catch up. It’s the best when we get out on the road, out on tour. The corps members only see each other once a month, then they get out on the road, get to know each other, then the progress is phenomenal.”
Valenzuela notes that the talent of the corps this year is a progression from the previous several years…